When you’re anal and obsessively organised and travelling goes wrong.

I’m the kind of person that organises their wardrobe in colour coordination. The tee-shirts in my drawer are piled at just the right height so that the singlets fit comfortably underneath. My shoes are ordered according to season, functionality and likelihood of use. Even my jeans are folded by denim shade and waist fit. It’s a characteristic only a mother could love but I’ll gladly take iCal over Heathcliff.

It is no wonder that the preparations for my study abroad naturally started early. So eager was I to be organised that I was told I was too early and would have to wait another two years. My time in academic purgatory was thankfully quick and I soon found myself in my favourite event in the preparation arena. After a ruthless six months of packing and planning, I bid farewell to my beloved dog Zahli (and my Mum, Dad, Sister and Friends) and head off to Europe with my 75 page, A5 sized, bound travel document (courtesy of OfficeWorks) proudly in tote.

Today marks five days into this trip. I haven’t had a voice since day three, most likely the cause of a chest infection. The two seasons worth of clothes in my backpack are far too heavy and no amount of BodyPump could prepare me for this lifting. To top it all, I have a right cankle. Yes, cankle; that thing that used to be an ankle but is now three times its normal size. I don’t know how I hurt it. I didn’t get drunk on red wine with fellow backpackers in an Italian cobbled street square and injure myself in the dance and festivities. I didn’t get swamped by a crowd desperate to touch the Pope in the Papal Audience at St. Peter’s Bascilia. I got a cankle with no story to show for it.

Cankle Profile Shot

I had done everything possible to not be in this position. You see, these kinds of things are only meant to happen to an inexperienced nomad with last minute plans and a lack of resources. But here I am, voiceless, ankleness and apparently not as strong as Goodlife Gym had led me to believe. When you’re anal and obsessively organised, chaos like this generally leads to a heightened anxiety. The kind of stress that makes you stop what you’re doing and ask Mum for a cuddle (I know what you’re thinking but it does happen, often).

“So,” you ask, “tell me how this is meant to be fun again?” Believe me that I’m asking myself the same question, but there is just something about this entire situation that is. Having no control has revealed how much I love to control things and how unwilling I am to let go of this safety net. Spontaneity is a quality we all desire but something so many of us are unwilling to obtain. At the core of this reluctance is really just fear. I was scared that something would go wrong so I excessively planned, but even my planning couldn’t stop things I didn’t desire from happening. It really isn’t until you look at these fears in hindsight that you realise how naive you were to try and exercise control in the first place.

Did I plan to begin my trip with a whispered tone, hobbled walk and oversized bag. of course not, but that’s ok. For now, conversations will be quieter and I’ll walk a bit slower along Italy’s beautiful Amalfi coastline, knowing full well how blessed I am for what I can and cannot control, and deep down hoping that someday this tale of misfortune will make a good story.

Cankle with a nice view.